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Books to Kickoff Latinx Heritage Month

Books to Kickoff Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month, also referred to as Hispanic Heritage Month officially begins on September 15th and runs through October 15th.  You may be wondering, “why a mid-month start date?”  Well since you asked, the 15th coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica). 

What better way to honor Latinx culture and history with kids than through great books.  We’ve corralled some great informative, inspiring, and just plain fun books that recognize a range of voices and stories within Latinx, Hispanic and Latino-identified communities.  These books are great for readers young and old and are sure to be a hit not just this month but every month.  

Disclaimer: We use some affiliate links for Bookshop and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support local bookstores.



The Afro-Latino Alphabet/El Alfabeto de Afro-Latino by Keaira & José Faña-Ruiz

Get ready to practice your Spanish ABCs, en Español of course. Celebrate with us as we pay homage to the Afro-Latino Culture. A culture full of rich history, champions, strength, variety, pride, and color. (Ages 3+)


Solar System with Ellen/El Sistema Con Ellen by Patty Rodriguez, Ariana Stein, Citlali Reyes

Take a trip around our solar system with Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in the world to travel into space. This book introduces little ones to the sun, moon, and planets with simple facts in English and Spanish. (Ages 2-3)


Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Meg Medina, Sonia Sanchez

Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend. They do everything together and even live in twin apartments across the street from each other: Daniela with her mami and hamster, and Evelyn with her mami, papi, and cat. But not after today–not after Evelyn moves away. Until then, the girls play amid the moving boxes until it’s time to say goodbye, making promises to keep in touch, because they know that their friendship will always be special.  (Ages 4-8)


Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla by Diana López, Teresa Martinex

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world. (Ages 4-8)


Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, Micah Player

Ring! Ring! Ring! Can you hear his call? Paletas for one! Paletas for all!

What’s the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? Run quick and find Paletero José!

Follow along with our narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, our narrator’s pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now.  (Ages 4-8)


My Papi has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña


Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, Rafael López

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why all we have to do is Just Ask. (Ages 4-8)


Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo: Bilingual Spanish/English by Monica Brown, Rafael López

In this vibrant bilingual picture book biography of musician Tito Puente, readers will dance along to the beat of this mambo king’s life. Tito Puente loved banging pots and pans as a child, but what he really dreamed of was having his own band one day. From Spanish Harlem to the Grammy Awards–and all the beats in between–this is the true-life story of a boy whose passion for music turned him into the King of Mambo. (Ages 4-8)


Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales,

Frida Kahlo, one of the world’s most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases. (Ages 4-8)


If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio, Brianna McCarthy 

If Dominican were a color, it would be the sunset in the sky, blazing red and burning bright.
If Dominican were a color, it’d be the roar of the ocean in the deep of the night,
With the moon beaming down rays of sheer delight.

The palette of the Dominican Republic is exuberant and unlimited. Maiz comes up amarillo, the blue-black of dreams washes over sandy shores, and people’s skin can be the shade of cinnamon in cocoa or of mahogany. This exuberantly colorful, softly rhyming picture book is a gentle reminder that a nation’s hues are as wide as nature itself. (Ages 4-8)


Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell.  (Ages 4-8)


Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle, Rafael López

As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too–the Civil War.

Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most? (Ages 4-8)


Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Señoras y señores, put your hands together for the fantastic, spectacular, one of a kind . . . Niño!

Fwap! Slish! Bloop! Krunch! He takes down his competition in a single move!

No opponent is too big a challenge for the cunning skills of Niño–popsicle eater, toy lover, somersault expert, and world champion lucha libre competitor!

Niño Wrestles the World is in English with Spanish vocabulary, and is a fun, colorful story about a boy wrestling with imaginary monsters (including an Olmec Head and La Llorona) and adversaries like his younger sisters. This is a joyful picture book about imagination, play, and siblings. (Ages 4-8)


Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina by Monica Brown

Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. To Marisol, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.

Other people wrinkle their noses in confusion at Marisol-can’t she just choose one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her. (Ages 4-8)

 


A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Leo Espinosa

When young Rosita moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States, she didn’t know what to expect–but she knew she loved to sing and dance. Working to overcome the language barrier and bullying she experienced in a strange new country, Rita eventually made her way to Hollywood with a dream to be a star. There, she fought to be seen and heard and eventually reached the pinnacle of success, landing her iconic role in West Side Story and, finally, winning her groundbreaking Oscar. (Ages 4-8)


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, Rafael López

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule–until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere. (Ages 4-7)


Waiting for Biblioburro by Monica Brown, John Parra

Ana loves stories. She often makes them up to help her little brother fall asleep. But in her small village, there are only a few books and she has read them all. One morning, Ana wakes up to the clip-clop of hooves, and there before her, is the most wonderful sight: a traveling library resting on the backs of two burros-all the books a little girl could dream of, with enough stories to encourage her to create one of her own.

Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, award-winning picture book creators Monica Brown and John Parra introduce readers to the mobile library that journeys over mountains and through valleys to bring literacy and culture to rural Colombia, and to the children who wait for the BiblioBurro. (Ages 5-8)


Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

When her family moved to the town of Westminster, California, young Sylvia Mendez was excited about enrolling in her neighborhood school. But she and her brothers were turned away and told they had to attend the Mexican school instead. Sylvia could not understand why–she was an American citizen who spoke perfect English. Why were the children of Mexican families forced to attend a separate school? Unable to get a satisfactory answer from the school board, the Mendez family decided to take matters into its own hands and organize a lawsuit. (Ages 6-9)


Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina

Juana is a spunky young Colombian girl who stars in this playful, abundantly illustrated series. Juana loves many things: drawing, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or learning English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones (the hearts) of readers everywhere. (Ages 5-8)


She Persisted: Sonia Sotomayor by Meg Medina 

Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in the history of the United States, but her road there wasn’t easy. She overcame many challenges along the way, including a diagnosis of diabetes at age seven. But she didn’t let that stop her from achieving her dream and inspiring children all over the world to work hard and believe in themselves. (Ages 6-9) 



Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers by Juliet Menéndez

Discover how 40 influential Latinas became the women we celebrate today! In this collection of short biographies from all over Latin America and across the United States, Juliet Menéndez explores the first small steps that set the Latinitas off on their journeys. With gorgeous, hand-painted illustrations, Menéndez shines a spotlight on the power of childhood dreams.

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to singer Selena Quintanilla to NASA’s first virtual reality engineer, Evelyn Miralles, this is a book for aspiring artists, scientists, activists, and more. These women followed their dreams–and just might encourage you to follow yours!. (Ages 8-12) 


Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

What would you do if you had the power to reach through time and space and retrieve anything you want, including your mother, who is no longer living (in this universe, anyway)?

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.


Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. (
Ages 8-12)


The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself! (Ages 9-12)


The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí. (Ages 10+) 


Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target.

After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mom decides it’s time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don’t remember or have never met. But Marcus can’t focus knowing that his father–who walked out of their lives ten years ago–is somewhere on the island.

So begins Marcus’s incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn’t know if he’ll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way. (Ages 10+) 


These are just some books to start your collection of books written by Latinx authors.  You can also find additional books in our “Celebrating Latinx Heritage” collection on our website. 

 

Looking for even more options?  Head over to our Bookshop Affiliate Store.  There are hundreds of titles in our National Latinx Heritage Month” and “Books Written by Latinx Authors collections.  Happy Reading!

 

What are your favorite books that celebrate Latinx culture?  Drop a comment below.  

 

 

 

Kanika Mobley

Hi! I'm Kanika. I'm a mother and 20+ year educator. I started my career as a kindergarten teacher and fell in love with helping kids discover their reading identities. As they asked for certain books, I tried with all my might to keep the classroom library filled with high-engaging books that were both mirrors and windows for their experiences.

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